Timing Belt Replacement

I just bought a 2003 Volvo C-70. It only has 13,000 miles. The maintenance schedule suggests replacing the timing belt at 100.000 miles or 7 years. I am wondering if it makes sense to replace a timing belt with this few miles.

Yes, it does. The material degrades with time as well as use.

Does it make sense to replace a timing belt with this few miles?
Only if you want to avoid catastrophic damage to your engine.

The engineers who designed your engine saw fit to specify an elapsed time value, as well as an odometer mileage value, for this vital maintenance item. However, they can’t compel you to exercise good economic sense.

It’s your call, and your wallet.

Maybe then they wrote those instructions, they were trying to tell you "time or miles which ever comes first.


This doesn’t appear to have an interference engine so you can take more risk with it. It may leave you stranded but at least it won’t necessarily ruin the engine if it breaks.

It is an absolute guess whether it will last longer or not.

Try calling a few European and especially Swedish independent shops and ask their opinion and get a cost at same time. They will also give you the cost scenario if it snaps.

Yours is more unusual however typically you will find timing belts generally snap a good bit beyond their mileage limit. For example my local Honda dealer stated most came in at 140k-150k with a 105k interval. It is a similar thing with Subaru’s.

Early 2000’s VW Passat would actually snap the belt at 75k miles even though interval was 105k.

So it really is motor specific…

Good luck. If you plan on keeping this car I would save the money up and perform soon.

I call it a gamble. Replacing it at the specified time or mileage interval as specified is good insurance that costs a couple of hundred. Not doing it is a gamble on an engine that costs a couple of thousand.

Looks like you are getting WILDLY differeng opinions. Being a mechanic for over 20years I have a good bit of experience with this. If I were you I would just continue driving until about 60K and then replace it. This would be well under your service limit… I am not overly fearful about the age of your belt…that car has a pretty fair sized belt too. It is way too early to chage it and if the other fellow was correct about your engine being a NON-interference engine then I would even more DEF just keep on driving. Look this up on the net…INterference or NON-interference. If it is NON then the worst that will happen when the belt snaps is the car shuts off and needs to be towed to he shop for the belt swap. If it IS an interference engine then a snapped belt will cause a lot of damage…which WILL be costly to repair properly. I can tell you that MOST high output modern engines ARE INTERFERENCE ENGINES THOUGH Look yours up. If yours is like most engines I’d still go to 60K then change it. The belts can last 15-18 years regardless of mileage before they break down molecularly. I have changed 20 year old original T-belts with 2-3X the dictated or reccommended mileage on them and they did not break yet…this isnt the norm, but goes to show that the belts arent as fragile as they would like you to think. I would just enjoy your low mileage vehicle…and drive until you get way more miles on it… By changing it at 60K you are still under the limit…dont worry too much about the age of your belt Worry about its age when it is over 12ys old or so and even then I wouldnt fret it too much. Again…do it at 60K is my opinion based on too many years replacing Timing belts.

This IS an interference design. Going 2-3X the recommended interval is asking for seriously expensive trouble. Damage done by a belt snap is not cheap, and for Volvo’s, even way more expensive that average. I wouldn’t be surprised if shops refuse to touch this engine with a belt snap, except to replace it with a salvaged one with unknown maintenance. Doesn’t matter how ‘thick’ you think the belt is, the engineers have listed the change intervals based on mean time to failure to insure a belt snapping is a rare occurrence if the maintenance schedule is followed.

If you want the car to remain trouble-free, follow the maintenance schedule and change the belt. Anything else is a gamble.

Other than the issue of the engine being an interference fit or a free-wheeler this are a couple of other things that relate to broken timing belts even on a free-wheeler.

  1. The inconvenience of being stuck on the side of the road at a bad time due to a snapped belt.
  2. The safety issue if the belt decides to snap while you’re attempting to dart across a roadway, if the belt pops at 80 MPH with a loaded Kenworth about 3 lengths off of the back bumper, breaks during a long downhill run with curves and power steering/brakes are lost, etc. etc.

The Gates web site doesn’t indicate that it’s an interference engine.

Here’s the question-Is it really going to make much more difference in cost if you change it now or at 60K? If you do it now you are good to go until 110K. If you do it at 60K, you are good to go until 160K. Do you think you’ll really keep it till 160K? If not, you’ll be giving most of the time left on the new belt to the new owner. So why not just do it now and be done with it?

In a similar fashion, I am always fascinated by people who insist on using their original car battery for 7 or 8 years, and in the process run the risk of getting stranded and possibly even burning out their alternator. Then, they sell the car about a year after finally buying that new battery, thus giving the new owner most of the benefit of that battery.

You just spent good money for the car. Check with Volvo on what a replacement engine would cost. I think we are talking about $5K to 6K for a decent Volvo engine installed. Now get the cost of a timing belt job. If you have an interference engine your gambling $5K on the belt not breaking.

The chance the belt will break is low. But the chance gets greater every year that passes. We can give all the advice you want, but you are the one that pays the bill.

According to this technician, all Volvo SOHC engines are non-interference engines, and all DOHC Volvo engines are interference engines. It appears the C70 has a DOHC engine and is therefore an interference engine.


You should change out that timing belt soon, and go ahead and change out the water pump and timing belt tensioner while it’s apart to avoid further breakdowns due to these parts failing. If you think a timing belt job is expensive, wait till it breaks and price out rebuilding that cylinder head at best or replacing the engine at worst.